Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
Just put up my new translation, clarification and "amplification" of Plato's Symposium over at The Midriffs.
There is at least as much Gurdjieff, Buddhism and Nietzsche in this play as there is any traditional notion of Platonism. Socrates is a bawdy spiritual guru who teaches a path of constant investigation into colloquial thinking, ironic engagement and the use of Attractiveness as a path to nondual realization. If we imagine him (as Osho did) as a Buddha then the story becomes vastly more interesting.
Those who are familiar with the way Plato gets talked about by philosophy scholars and anti-Platonists may be surprised how artistic, funny and basically non-Platonic his writing really is.
Nice timing -- I just purchased Badiou's new translation / rendering of Plato's Republic, which is quite fun so far. I look forward to checking out what you've done.
Well, it's Plato's ending -- not mine!
There is a kind of tripartite logic to the Drinking-Party whereby we get (1) Various Intelligent Philosophical Perspectives (2) A Developmental Spiritual Perspective (3) the Effects of having lived a Spiritual Life of Love. So the drunk is partly a prop to introduce the "effects" of the esoteric spiritual life.
The drunken finale served a partial historical purpose in refuting the association between Socrates an the notorious gay lordling who led Athens to defeat and then betrayed her to her enemies. So Plato is partly going out of his way, at the end, to say "Socrates obviously had no part in that". In a way Alcibiades is used as a witness against himself. By his attempt to do justice to our knowledge of Socrates as a spiritual (rather than socio-intellectual) character he also redresses the injustice of blaming Socrates for actions committed later by people who were associated with him.
But in several other senses he is also the "previously excluded party who can act as the Witness". Insofar as the party also resembles a jury (which Alcibiades calls them) then he is a special, last witness for the Defense. And his argument has roughly the form: you had to be there! He is the voice from "inside" a situation which cannot be rightly judged merely by the impartial contemplation of people who were not intimately involved.
However we should not overlook the fact that any magician offers a distraction immediately after he has made his main move. The "fanfare" follows the heart of the matter. A drunken version of a popular and polarizing character shows up to segue us back from the "secret Love teachings of the Greek mystery schools" into the world of society. He is a bit like a cul-de-sac. If you run into Alcibiades you've gone too far! You missed the turn off...